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Science Notebook, 12/30/02

Monday, December 30, 2002

From wire and local dispatches

Zeiss projector restoration

Plans for the new year at the Carnegie Science Center call for the start of cleaning and restoration of the Zeiss II planetarium projector and the 10-inch Siderostat telescope from the old Buhl Science Center, which is being renovated for the Pittsburgh Children's Museum.

The City of Pittsburgh last summer awarded custody of the historic projector and telescope to the Carnegie Science Center, which supervised their removal from the old Buhl building in October. Now in storage, the 6,000-pound projector will go on display on the science center's second floor, outside the new Buhl Planetarium, as part of a "Final Frontier" exhibit scheduled to open in 2005.

John Radzilowicz, planetarium director, said the Siderostat telescope will be installed when the existing observatory is relocated after the science center's upcoming expansion, which will add several stories atop the observatory's current perch.

Photon transmission

Scientists say they've transmitted an image by means of an unbreakable code, a demonstration of how a device that dribbles out bits of light can make such secure communication possible.

A technique called quantum cryptography can create unbreakable codes by sending messages via single photons, which are the basic bits of light. It's been done before with lasers, but in some cases those devices can emit pulses with more than one photon, which makes the message vulnerable to eavesdropping, Stanford University researchers say.

So they used a "photon turnstile" that's more reliable at emitting only one photon at a time, they report in the Dec. 19-26 issue of the journal Nature.

They transmitted an image of Stanford's Memorial Church from one spot to another in a lab. Anybody who intercepted such a message but didn't have the key to decode it would see only a meaningless pattern.

Young award winner

Diana Fournier, 10, a gifted student at Myrtle Elementary School in Castle Shannon, has won a national drawing contest sponsoring by Westinghouse Electric Co.

The fifth-grader's artwork, a rendering that features the diverse uses of nuclear power, is on display at the Westinghouse Energy Center in Monroeville. Her prizes for winning the Westinghouse North American Young Generation in Nuclear Drawing Contest include a collection of books for her school library, a $100 U.S. Savings Bond and a

certificate.

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